What is Accomplice Liability?

What is Accomplice Liability?

Your buddy said he was just stepping into the store for a minute, perhaps for a candy bar or for a pack of cigarettes.

Moments later, he runs out of the store and tells you to drive. Later, you find out your buddy went in and held up the store. Now you’re being arrested and charged as an accomplice in the crime.

What just happened?

Under New York Law, you can be prosecuted as an accomplice in several types of cases.

You solicited or requested the crime be committed.

To use this part of the statute against you the prosecution must prove that you either asked your friend to hold up the store or that you tried to pay your friend to do so. Encouraging others to commit crimes on your behalf is the same thing as picking up the gun and doing it yourself.

This is true even if you don’t take possession of any of the acquired property. You don’t have to benefit from it in any way.

You commanded the crime to be committed.

You are an accomplice to the crime if you intimidated someone into committing it, or if you held them at gunpoint and ordered them to do so. They have the option to say no, (though they will argue they did not) so your command won’t necessarily keep them from being convicted.

A friend’s claim that you ordered them to commit the crime could certainly result in your conviction, though.

You “importuned” someone into committing a crime.

Importune means that you harassed the robber into committing the crime, or persistently asked them over and over again to commit the crime. This might happen when you dare the criminal to go in there and rob the store.

It sounds the same as “soliciting” or “requesting,” but the law likes to be thorough.

You intentionally aided in the commission of a crime.

This is the most common scenario. If you drove off when your friend told you to then it looks like you drove the getaway vehicle, even if in truth you had no idea what was going on.

Fortunately, the keyword here is “intentional.” One defense, in this case, may be to prove that you truly knew nothing about the crime and never intended to aid and abet one in any way.

If you’re being charged as an accomplice you need immediate, expert help.

You could go to jail. If someone died during the commission of the crime you could even be facing murder charges, even if the death was of someone who was committing the crime with you at the time. Indeed, sometimes the person who sat in the car can receive a harsher sentence than the person who actually entered the location at gunpoint and took property.

Accomplice charges often blindside innocent actors, and it takes a committed, skilled attorney to thoroughly investigate the case. You need someone who will turn over every stone to find the right defense and to create the right strategy.

See also:

What Happens When You Confess to a Crime You Didn’t Commit?

How to Strengthen Your NYC Criminal Case

What Are The Steps in a Criminal Trial?